Working at mySociety requires a moderate amount of travel and a few nights away here and there. I’m a pretty anxious traveller, but I’ll also procrastinate pretty badly if something might cause me stress (I put off opening letters from the bank for weeks). So packing for trips away was always a last-minute flurry of throwing stuff into a bag and discovering what I’d forgotten when I got to the hotel room. Not ideal.

After forgetting some key items more than once, I developed a little system to make packing easier and less error–prone. It only requires a little preparation but it’s seems to be working (after two solid year’s use), so I thought I’d share it.

Three lists

I’ve used Evernote to make a reusable checklist of things to pack, which I’ve split into three smaller lists – Stuff I always need, Stuff I sometimes need and Stuff I need this time.


Stuff I always need

The bare essentials, underwear, clothes, phone, wallet etc. I’ll always need these no matter what

Stuff I sometimes need

Things I’ll commonly need, but not every time. Laptop, iPad, headphones, camera, a myriad of charging cables

Stuff I need this time

Incidental items that are specific to this trip. Things that have been in here in the past include — Suit, smart shoes, boardshorts, walking boots etc

The day before a trip I tick everything I don’t need on the trip, and add anything incidental to ‘Stuff I need this time’. I then untick everything I need to remember to bring with me.

When it comes to packing I just tick each item off the list as it’s packed, and then when I’m at the door ready to leave I make sure there’s no unchecked items on the list.

And that’s it, I’ve made it part of my ‘getting ready to go away’ routine and I haven’t forgot anything yet.